MFW: DSQUARED2 F/W 2014

We’re on the last day of Milan Fashion Week and the feeling that the city is breathing a sigh of relief is palpable. A slightly chilly morning had those arriving at Dean and Dan Caten’s DSquared2 show opting for heavier coats and jackets than we’ve seen most of the week. Yet, spirits were quite light, the young lady serving espresso was pleasant, and there were plenty of smiles to be had. The twins draw such a mixed audience, from old men in parkas and ball caps to executives in suits to young sprites in leather jackets with plenty of starlettes thrown in to give the paps something to do. Over the years, they have developed quite an audience of faithful shoppers who are largely convinced the globe-trotting Canadians can do no wrong.

One of the interesting aspects of pre-show marketing has taken place online, specifically on the social media site Twitter, where one can use hashtagged phrases such as #MFW to view a stream of messages related to a specific topic. Many labels have started issuing their own hashtags, such as #robertocavallilive, as a means of not only involving their online fans and audience members, but also real-time tracking of reactions to the collections. Typically, the hashtags are generic with the name of the label and some other short qualifier.

Dan and Dean chose the hashtag #perturbedwonderful. We should have considered that a warning.

The opening video (the only one we’ve seen since New York) was set in the confinement room of a 1960s mental institution. As the music played, models dressed in Dsquared2 paced, cried, argued, and mindlessly watched the television in the corner as though they were drugged. The last scene is one of the twins (I can never tell them apart) doing pushups … in red stiletto heels.

Cut to the live set, which duplicates that same 1960s mental institution, only now it is the community room with several “patients” and “orderlies” scattered about. As Shirley Bassey’s Greatest Performance of My Life played on the soundtrack, the first model/patient appears, dressed in a sparkling purple coat, and is accompanied down the runway by two model/orderlies dressed in white. This was not your average runway.

Eliminate the hype, look at the clothes, and what you have is 1960s chic blinged out to its greatest potential. The brothers have appliqued jewels on any surface they could get to stick, and have really pushed that short, sexy 60s look to its max. As a result, they have a collection that, while not always seasonally appropriate, is definitely sexier than your average fall collection. Here’s what you need to know.

Looks are either very long or very short, mostly short. There’s no middle ground here, and only five long gowns out of the set. The brothers pushed the gowns up to the front, in fact, rather de-emphasizing their place in the collection. They pay much more attention to the shorter looks, which are fitted, well-tailored and frequently jacketed in some form or fashion. Many of the looks could have come straight from a 1962 catalog, but the fabrics have been updated dramatically, thank goodness. No one wants to return to that old polyester.

We’re retro, but contemporary. Sure, the silhouette look is straight from the 60s, but the faux python and leopard skin prints are totally 2014. Looks aren’t that far removed from their origin, but trust me, no one in my preschool play group had a mom wearing green leather python print minis to pick them up. Though, it would have been interesting if they had.

Accessories rule, and confine. Start with the hats, which were originally influenced by those worn by London police. The look was taken up by early flight attendants in the 1960s and the Caten brothers have brought them back, covered them in faux fur, and made simple all-white looks appear rather daunting. Then, there are the cuffs on necks, arms, and even fingers, bejewelled out to the max and often worn in multiples. This is the factor that takes an ensemble from daywear to evening wear in 3.2 seconds. The most fun accessory: there are fur-lined ankle cuffs on the shoes. I’m not kidding. They’ve really played this theme to the max.

The only curious pieces here are those that look more like underwear, which includes the finale piece. For most of the show they were hidden under coats, but in the finale we see a tiny tank top with matching boy shorts. Provocative, to be sure, and the look would probably make a great foundation under the other pieces. On its own, though? Probably not in the middle of a winter like this one.

Get away from the drama of the presentation, and the brothers have done a great job of making 1960s silhouettes and styles look contemporary and wearable. We’re going to see 60s looks everywhere this fall, though, so I’m curious as to just how well these looks might stand out from the crowd.

Dan and Dean have made a strong argument that fashion is crazy. Following trends is insane. And none of us can escape the asylum.

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